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Lawyers elected to Parliament have let down the justice system - Panton

Published:Monday | December 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Justice Seymour Panton addresses the audience at his retirement luncheon staged by the Cornwall Bar Association last Friday.

Western Bureau:

Outgoing president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Seymour Panton, says he is unimpressed and disappointed with the manner in which attorneys-at-law who are elected as parliamentarians have treated the Jamaican justice system over the years.

Panton made his comments at a retirement luncheon staged in his honour by the Cornwall Bar Association at the Grand Palladium in Lucea last Friday.

"I don't know about you, but now that I am retiring, I have been reflecting on what happens in Parliament, and I have been wondering, why is it that I have not been impressed? I am not saying anything bad about them, but why is it that I have not been impressed with the performance of our attorneys in Parliament so far as their action in terms of justice and the system of justice?" Panton said.

"I think that our attorneys should have done more and could have done more and can do more to seek (to improve) the physical structure of our buildings, to seek (to improve) the conditions under which justice is administered. Now if they have done all that they can do, in my view, it's not enough, and perhaps we need to seek some improvement by them and perhaps you, who are in touch with them, could point out that they need to step up in terms of helping to get things done," he added.

Panton said scant regard had been paid to the state of the island's courthouses, many of which, including the one in Lucea, where he had his early beginnings as a clerk of the courts, had been neglected for a very long time, despite money being available to undertake the works.

"Why did it take 20 years of agitation for a new courthouse to be built in Lucea? Why is it that in the late '80s, I asked for fencing of that (Lucea) courthouse, and it has only been done recently - fencing of those premises? We take too long to do important things," he argued.

"And when they say that there is no money, it is not true! It is not true! There is money; it is a question of priorities. Where is justice at? We are one of the most taxed nations, so there is money," he stressed.

"And we need to look to see how money is spent, how much do we spend on our courts."

claudia.gardner@gleanerjm.com